I don’t have the funds for a blog conference right now, so this is as good as it’s going to get. But as I’m a sucker for Twitter parties and linkys, I decided to jump in, spew a little knowledge, ask a few questions and maybe meet some cool new bloggers.
The first prompt is from the Advice for Others section and is:
- If a real life friend approached you and said, “I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?“, what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend?
Oh wait. Ten? Really? That’s a lot. Of course I have a lot to say about it, too.
We’ve all been blogging NOOBS. No one starts out with a blog and is immediately getting 10,000 page views per day (and if you do, please write 10 blogging tips for me to get that kind of traffic.) The following are a few things that I’ve learned that have made my blogging experience so much more enjoyable.
1. Get the no-reply off your blogger address. Seriously, do it. Here is an article with step-by-step instructions. Now you have no excuse. Most other bloggers will agree, but for some reason this still perpetuates. The default for blogger blogs/ blogger profiles is this no-reply setting, but it doesn’t allow the blogger to respond to your comment via email. On a Blogger blog, it’s very hard to reply to comments through comments, so the email reply function is crucial. Most bloggers want to continue the conversation with you!
2. Turn off word verification. I know you have this on for your convenience and to keep spam at bay, but you’re also severely limiting the engagement you could have on your blog. It’s infinitely harder to leave comments on blogs with word verification, and even more so when you are reading on a smart phone. I never got more than 10 spam comments in almost two years on Blogger.
3. Read blogs. Find other bloggers who you find interesting, funny, clever; bloggers who inspire you; bloggers who have a similar niche. Comment on these blogs regularly. This will help you build your tribe, which is the first step in successful blogging.
4. This one might raise some eyebrows, but I’m going for it. The Bloggess is great. Seriously, I love her blog. However, commenting on every post she publishes is not going to help you get readers (unless you’re getting them through your comments). When I started blogging I thought, “If only I could get a ‘big blogger’ to notice me, I’ll be golden!’” Then I started reading smaller blogs, making friends with them, sharing my life with people who I could connect with on a personal level, and honestly? I don’t read those “big blogs” nearly as often. I’m not saying they aren’t interesting and funny and cool and worth while, but don’t focus all your energy on big blogs. It wasn’t until I started making those connections with bloggers who could that I actually fell in love with blogging.
5. Respond to comments. Now, I used to not respond to every comment when I was on Blogger because it was sort of a hassle, especially if there was a no-reply situation. I would, however, respond to a blogger’s comment with a visit to their blog and a comment. Since switching to Word Press, I respond directly to comments on my blog because it emails the commenter. Thanking readers for taking the time to read what you wrote is the number one way to begin building your community.
6. Sometimes you will be tempted to write about something controversial or in the news only because you might get more traffic. I’m not saying don’t post about controversial things, but if you’re doing it just because you think you should, you’re going to feel yucky about it in the long run. One time I created a post just because I saw some traffic on my analytics and wrote another post on the same topic. It wasn’t me, wasn’t my voice and just felt wrong. Write what you know and be authentic. Those things will bring more traffic than any tailored post.
7. Participate in memes. I love memes because they not only give you an automatic topic, but allows you to find other bloggers and see how they approached the same subject. I’ve met tons of great people through memes and have written some great pieces when I don’t have to come up with a topic first. A few that I like: VlogTalk, Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, Target Tuesday, and Pour Your Heart Out.
*At this point I stopped and took a nap because the baby was napping, and during this nap I dreamed about this post. So, 7.5 is, if you start dreaming about blogging you’re doing it right or wrong. I’ve yet to figure that out.*
8. Newsflash: You probably aren’t going to make thousands of dollars on your blog. I’m not saying there aren’t chances to montetize, because there are — lots of opportunities, but you have to look for them and work hard. You have to do all the things above to build your community and make connections. It’s certainly not easy money.
9. And also? A successful blog takes a TIME COMMITMENT. Ask any of the “big bloggers” and they would probably tell you they spend almost as much time as they would a full time job. Ask someone like me and I’d tell you I spend at least 10 hours a week writing, responding to comments, reading other blogs, updating my Facebook, Tweeting and participating in communities, and that’s the minimum. I would spend way more time if I had it! It’s a joy to me, though. This is my hobby. Some people play sports, or scrapbook, or craft. I blog.
10. Finally, be yourself. Don’t write for anyone else — write for you. Write what you love, write your passion. Use your voice, not the voice you think people expect. Writing yourself into a corner with topics that aren’t you will make you resent your blog and cause you to burn out. I still struggle with this sometimes. Are people reading what I’m writing? Do they hate what I have to say? Sometimes the desire to get more traffic or comments takes over what you originally intended your blog to be. Don’t let it.
This is what I’ve learned, and I’m still learning.
What are your best tips for blogging? Is your blog still the way you envisioned it? Better? Worse?